Differences Between GSM And CDMA Phones

There are two main types of competing cell phone network technologies; Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Most of the top carriers (Sprint PCS, AT&T, and Verizon) will choose to use one or the other. It helps to know the difference between the two when trying to choose what type of carrier you want to use.

GSM Association is an international organization that was founded in 1987. It works to provide, develop, and keep track of the worldwide wireless standard that makes them popular. CDMA is a proprietary standard that is designed by Qualcomm and is located within the United States. For years they have dominated the North American network and parts of Asia.


The easiest way to know what type of carrier you can use is to look at a coverage map. In some of the smaller area only GSM or CDMA – not both – will be used. This will greatly narrow down your choices of the provider you can use and you will have no choice about the network technology.

Data Transfer

It is hard to find a cell phone that cannot stream videos, receive e-mail, or play music. In order to accomplish all of this the network technology must be fast enough to handle all of this data transfer. Both technologies have created ā€™3Gā€™ technology. Still CDMA is said to be slightly faster. This is because they use EVDO. This allows it to downstream 2 megabits per second.


Both networks have a concentrated coverage in many of the major cities and over major highways. GSM carriers still have roaming contracts with other like carriers in the rural areas – but refrain from charging them a fee. CDMA does not cover these areas as extensively and will charge their customers a small fee.